HC Deb 12 December 1966 vol 738 cc27-9
50. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Mr. J. P. R. Heard of Inkberrow, Worcestershire, Transport and General Workers Union Branch 5–528 No. 79, formerly employed as a Longbridge delivery driver, was given notice of redundancy operative 11th October, 1966, prior to the strike of delivery drivers and is now on National Assistance due to refusal of his Department to pay unemployment relief, to which Mr. Heard is entitled; and whether unemployment relief retrospective to 11th October will now be paid.

Mr. Gunter

Mr. Heard's claim was disqualified by the independent statutory authorities under Section 22(1) of the National Insurance Act, 1965, and I have no power to alter their decision.

Sir G. Nabarro

Will the right hon. Gentleman, in equity, look into a case of this kind? Is it not a fact that this man was declared redundant first and then his colleagues and workmates struck on account of his redundancy? Why should he, in such circumstances, be will also be aware that a situation in which one could improve statistics as rapidly as one might wish in the circumstances is one that cannot be brought about in a matter of weeks. We have already given a good deal of information to the House to show the way in which statistics are now being improved.

Following is the table: reduced to pleading for National Assistance when he has all his life paid National Insurance and should, therefore, be entitled to qualify at once for unemployment benefit?

Mr. Gunter

I am not arguing the merits of the case because the hon. Gentleman has now stated the facts as I understand them. My problem is that I have no power to do anything about it. The hon. Gentleman's constituent can now appeal to the local tribunal, which, up to the present, so far as I know, he has not done, and he has a further right of appeal to the National Insurance Commissioner. On the wider aspect of the problem I have my doubts. I doubt whether the practice that we have largely carried out for 27 years now is the right one in present circumstances, and that is why, if I may dare to say it, the Royal Commission is looking at the relation of benefits to payments.

Mr. Dance

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I asked a similar Question to this last week? The case was exactly similar to that raised by my hon. Friend. Can the Minister say when the Royal Commission will report? What Chance have we of getting the law changed?

Mr. Gunter

I would hope that the spring will bring us glad tidings.